16 October 2018 | kjproulx
A Boring Experience with a Fantastic Cast
Much like the horror genre for me, western films haven't been able to win me over as well as others. That being said, I was looking forward to this one, due to the energetic trailers and very talented cast all around. Sadly, this film only lived up to one thing, which was the cast. I don't expect much from westerns to be honest, because aside from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or even the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, I haven't loved too many others. I still found myself disappointed in this one, however, due to the story being told and the crew behind the movie being so incredibly gifted. Here's why I'd recommend this movie if you're a fan of any of these performers, but why it's really not worth seeing as a whole.
Based on a true story of two brothers who are on the run after multiple felonies in the 1800s, The Sisters Brothers dives into the dramatic aspect of their characters and pretty much becomes a road trip drama with a Western setting. That itself would interest me if someone were to sell the movie before viewing it, but the drama aspect is far too heavy for this sort of film. A duo of gold prospectors in Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed are on the lookout, while also being in pursuit by these brothers, who are played by Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, respectively. The premise of this film is very interesting and different for this genre, but it truly goes nowhere that we haven't already seen westerns go a million times over.
If you go into this film hoping for great performances and nothing else, then you might end up loving this movie, because these four performers in Reilly, Gyllenhaal, Ahmed, and Phoenix are stellar from start to finish. I felt riveted each and every time any of them were sharing the screen together, but that's where the greatness ends for this film. It relies too heavily on this cast to carry the very slow pace. The film begins with an action sequence and ends with a decent one as well, but the rest of the movie is a very slow burn that does nothing all that interesting to keep you engaged. Sure, you will learn about the backstories and life goals of these characters, but it's nothing I'll ever find myself wishing to revisit.
With all of that said, this is a well-directed film by Jacques Audiard, who has been previously known for his award-winning foreign films in Rust and Bone, Dheepan, and many more. You can tell that this is a director that cares about his character on-screen and he definitely focussed the majority this filmmaking process to get that aspect just right because it really does show. These characters are fantastic. I just wish the movie itself was injected with a little more energy to hold my interested throughout the full 121 minutes.
Overall, The Sisters Brothers is a competent film as a whole, with great direction and superb performances, but the rest of the movie surrounding those aspects just left me underwhelmed. I'm not saying the movie itself needed a gunfight every five minutes, but the calm score, subtle performances, long sequences of sitting around a fire or riding a horse, and even the comedic aspects that were played as light humour to deviate from the tense moments, all felt dull. I enjoyed watching this movie, but it feels far too long, due to the slow pacing. I personally feel that this film is a big example of wasted potential. I can't quite give this movie a glowing recommendation, but there are enough positive aspects to warrant a positive grade.